How Much Does Alternator for a Car Cost?
Car alternators are the devices responsible for charging the battery and powering the electrical system while the engine runs; it’s often referred to as the hardest working part in the car. Car alternators have a voltage regulator that operates by modulating the small field current that produces a constant voltage to the stator output. Once the engine is running and the alternator is generating power, a diode feeds the current from the alternator main output that equalizes the voltage through the warning indicator that shuts off.
How much does an alternator cost?
- On average, car alternator prices are going to range anywhere from $65 to $520, not including labor. For example, the alternator prices at AutoZone retail for as little as $105 to more than $700.
- Factoring in labor can add another $100 to $275, bringing the total to about $250 to $800. OEM parts for luxury vehicles can be even more. The prices of car alternators are different depending on the make and model of the vehicle. For example, a Celica, Tundra, Corolla, Camry and other sedans can cost anywhere from $65 to $140 for just the part, while a Honda Civic, the CRV and Pilot can cost anywhere from $150 to $225 for the part.
- According to our research, if the alternator is easier to reach and is located near the top of the engine, the costs can be much cheaper than an alternator located deep within the engine.
- On a Ford F-150 forum thread, many drivers have claimed that they paid anywhere from $200 to $400 for the alternator and labor included. While many deemed that going over $400 may be a ripoff, it’s important to do your due diligence before signing any paperwork.
- We went ahead and talked with a few mechanics in the United States and were able to come up with the following ballpark estimates:
|Make and Model||Labor||Parts|
|Ford F-Series||$65 to $125||$150 to $350|
|Chevrolet Silverado||$65 to $125||$250 to $450|
|Ford Focus||$65 to $125||$250 to $400|
|Toyota Camry||$65 to $110||$275 to $550|
|Toyota Corolla||$50 to $110||$200 to $550|
|Nissan Maxim||$60 to $120||$265 to $400|
|Nissan Altima||$75 to $110||$250 to $350|
|Honda CR-V||$100 to $150||$300 to $700|
|Honda Civic||$90 to $180||$250 to $500|
|Honda Accord||$70 to $110||$240 to $450|
|Ford Fusion||$100 to $150||$230 to $350|
Factors that affect the price:
- Make and model: Like any car repair, the make and model will greatly affect the price. If the car isn’t manufactured anymore, you may find that you’re going to have to pay more than a car that is still in production.
- Year: Like the make and model, the year can play a crucial role, too. The older the car is, the more you will probably have to pay, especially if the car is hard to find.
What is going to be included?
- Before the alternator is even replaced, the mechanic will want to check the condition of the charging system to make sure the alternator is the culprit. This inspection will include checking the alternator, battery cables and the battery.
- If the alternator is, indeed, the problem, it will simply be swapped out for a new one. During this process, the battery will be disconnected, along with the belts and wires connected to the alternator. Next, the belt will be removed from pulley, allowing access to the alternator, which will be bolted inside a bracket. With most vehicles, this will be a straightforward process and the average job, depending on the make and model, will be one to two hours. If the job requires moving more than average parts, it could take much longer.
What are the extra costs?
- Additional parts used to connect the alternator to the vehicle can add to the cost. These parts include a high amp alternator fuse block wiring cable kit, an alternator belt, alternator conversion kit if needed and alternator brackets. These parts can cost anywhere from $40 to $260.
- Many times, the mechanic may find the battery has been drained due to a bad alternator. If this is the case, the mechanic may want to add a new battery just to play it safe. See: “How much does a car battery cost?“
Tips to know:
- The average alternator will last about 100,000 to 150,000 miles, depending on how often the car is driven, the number of electronics being used in the car and the quality of the part.
- Before you consider replacing the alternator, make sure the battery isn’t the problem. The Family Handyman shows you how to compare the battery and alternator.
How to tell if your alternator is going bad
- To know if your car alternator is bad, first test the headlights. While the car is running, simply turn on the headlights, and while the car is in park, slowly press the accelerator. While doing this, if the headlights start to dim or even get brighter, this could be a sure sign that the alternator is going bad.
- An electrical burning smell may be coming from the battery area and/or the alternator warning light will turn on. This warning light will look like a battery shape.
- The car radio or other electrical components may work intermittently.
- A squealing noise may come from the car’s engine.
How can I save money?
- Make sure that the car alternator you purchase is from a reliable source. Try to get it from the car manufacturer directly as this will ensure that the item is brand new and will last longer.
- If you are on a tight budget, consider purchasing a remanufactured or aftermarket car alternator. They are cheaper and are often backed by warranty as well; however, keep in mind the quality isn’t always there.
- Consider finding a local shop that focuses on alternators. These companies can help rebuild older alternators.
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